I was looking at the letter from the GPC concerning the registration of primary medical services providers by the Care Quality Commission (‘GPC demands further delay and "radical" rethink of CQC registration', www.pulsetoday.co.uk/news). My position as an independent GP in practice for the last 35 years, and emeritus chairman of the Independent Doctors Federation, gives me much insight into the matter of registration with this regulator.
Doctors in independent practice have had to register for several years, initially with the National Care Standards Commission, then with the Healthcare Commission and now with the CQC.
The entire process has been a nightmare from the beginning, the regulator being chaotic, disorganised, aggressive and unsupportive.
We have had a number of inspections, and it has been clear from the start that the regulator has been learning the job on the job and that they are inadequately prepared and obsessed with irrelevance.
Despite previous registration and successful inspections with the Healthcare Commission, we are now forced to re-register with the CQC. The forms are arduous and complex.
A doctor in my practice who is the registered lead downloaded the registration forms online, but the whole matter was so time-consuming that he deferred the matter until he was on holiday.
He was then told by the CQC that they had changed the registration forms on 1 July, the ones he had sent in were no longer correct and he had to start the whole process again – even though the data being presented on the forms was exactly the same.
The other problem is that a large amount of the information that has to be detailed on the forms is duplicated elsewhere. For example, my colleague has to provide his original degree certificates, not copies, even though he has been a GP for 20 years and is registered with the GMC. This is patently nonsense.
I could go on in great detail. Just one example will suffice – in November 2008, we prepared very carefully for some weeks for an inspection from the Healthcare Commission, which took one day. Three months later we had still not received our report, and we contacted them each month until the following July, at which time they denied that an inspection had ever taken place.
This is typical of all interactions with the Healthcare Commission, and there is no reason I can gather why the CQC would be any different – indeed so far they seem to be significantly worse.
Dr Martin Scurr, Former chair, Independent Doctors Association, Notting Hill, west London